Verizon is ending their VoIP service also known as VoiceWing, effective March 31, 2009. VoiceWing was a ‘bring your own broadband’ (BYOB) service, similar to Vonage. AT&T also stopped marketing their BYOB VoIP service, CallVantage. But neither company is abandoning VoIP service. Rather, they are both launching VoIP powered ‘Digital Voice’ services under their premier service brands, FiOS (Verizon) and U-Verse (AT&T). The moves are illustrative of the migration of VoIP services from primarily cost saving value propositions to feature rich next generation voice applications. VoIP powered digital voice products are now being positioned as advanced platforms that enable a variety of new features and services, and often mimic wireless plans. No mention of VoIP necessary. It’s a strategy that the cable industry has perfected quite well – an advanced voice service that’s comparable in price (maybe a little cheaper) to traditional phone service, but offers many more features.
Interestingly enough, Verizon isn’t completely abandoning the BYOB VoIP business. They are just moving its focus over to their wireless business, with the launch of the Verizon Hub. The Hub, marketed by Verizon Wireless rather than ‘old school’ Verizon, is a BYOB VoIP device that integrates wireless and web functions into a sleek, albeit expensive, device for the home. “Only Verizon Wireless can launch a new touch screen home phone system designed to replace old-style home phones with a souped-up home communications system, bridging wireline and wireless connectivity in one simple service, that runs on any broadband connection – whether supplied by Verizon FiOS Internet or DSL or any other high-speed service provider,” says Verizon Wireless in a company statement – a statement which did not mention VoIP one time. In both instances, Verizon and AT&T are removing the ‘VoIP’ moniker from these services, and positioning them as the next generation of voice services. It’s less about saving money, and more about enabling integrated communications across multiple platforms. VoIP is becoming the future of voice service. Just don’t call it VoIP.